Tonight TNT kicks off the new series Snowpiercer, which is based on the 2013 film of the same name. In the not-so-distant future, the Earth was overwhelmed by global warming. Scientists tried to reverse the process, but things went wrong, causing the Earth to become a frozen wasteland, with temperatures dropping to -199° Celsius. The only humans that managed to survive were the 4000 or so people who managed to board the great ark-like train known as Snowpiercer, which has been moving non-stop for nearly 7 years. If the train were to stop moving, those on board would quickly freeze to death.
The 1001-car train has its own delicate ecosystem, built upon a class system. Every aspect of the train’s functions are dictated by Snowpiercer’s mysterious but beloved creator, Mr. Wilford, head of Wilford Industries. Those in the first class section at the front of the train enjoy spacious cabins, real food, and all the creature comforts and luxuries of home. Early into the journey, Mr. Wilford locked himself away in the engine room, and assigned Head of Hospitality Melanie Cavill (Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind) to serve as his eyes, ears and mouthpiece to the passengers and crew. She delivers his orders and proclamations over the train’s loudspeaker for all to hear. Helping Melanie keep the first class passengers happy is Ruth Wardell (Alison Wright, The Americans), who has a deep respect and admiration for Mr. Wilford. The first class passengers also have their own personal bodyguards, and the protection of the military-like Jackboots, under the command of Commander Grey (Timothy V. Murphy, Quantico).
While the first class passengers purchased their way onto the train, the third class passengers have earned their spots. They are the lifeblood of the train, and keep things running. They are the ones cleaning and servicing the train, and maintaining the crops and livestock. They are the doctors, and even the entertainment. The Night Train is a Switzerland-like neutral zone on the train, where passengers in first, second and third class can all enjoy a drink or some burlesque entertainment. Helping to keep order in the middle of the train are Captain Roche (Mike O’Malley, The Good Place) and his Breakmen.
At the tail of the train are the passengers who sneaked onto the train just as it was taking off. These Tailies didn’t have tickets or jobs on the train—they were just desperate to survive. They are all crammed into one car at the back of the train, without any glimpse of sunlight for years, and are given the bare minimum of protein rations to survive. Occasionally a Tailie may have the opportunity to move up the train, but they are usually viewed as traitors by the others. Over the past 7 years, the Tailies have tried to rise up several times, but their attempts are always brutally crushed. With their rations growing increasingly smaller, they are once again plotting their attack, and leading the charge is Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs, Hamilton).
As the series opens, there is a serial killer aboard the train, who has dismembered another passenger. Melanie orders that Andre Layton, the only former police detective on the train, be brought in to investigate. He reluctantly agrees to help, seeing this as an opportunity to get a first-hand look at the train in order to plan the Tailie attack. However, he starts to uncover the much larger mystery of what is really happening on the train.
While this is a weekly show, after I checked out a screener of tonight’s premiere, I ended up binging through the entire 10-episode first season. This series takes viewers on a roller-coaster ride as the delicate order that has kept Snowpiercer running for seven years starts to crumble and fall apart, and the different classes aboard the train start to revolt and plot against one another. It is an action-packed thriller with some very interesting and complex characters. In general these characters are neither good nor evil, but also both at the same time. While many of them have to make some pretty horrible decisions—beginning with boarding the train, and leaving loved ones behind to die when they boarded the train—they all seem to do so for the greater good (except for some of those greedy first class passengers). The show does a great job of showing all aspects of life on the train and how the events are affecting each of the classes—each episode also opens with a narration from a different character with a different role/viewpoint on the train.
The cast is excellent, not just the leads, but also the lesser-known supporting cast. Each of the actors does a great job of making you care about (or in some cases, loathe) their character. While I enjoyed the whole season, the tension and drama really start to kick in by the fourth episode, and the season finishes out really action-packed and strong. If I had one complaint, it’s that the CGI shots of outside the train look pretty bad—but I’m hoping that’s just a screener thing, and that this has been improved for the final air version, but in either case, it didn’t really affect my enjoyment of the show. That said, the series has already been picked up for a second season of 10 episodes, so you can board and start your Snowpiercer journey tonight without worrying that it will stop too soon.
Tonight, I’ll also be watching/recording The Simpsons, Duncanville, Bob’s Burgers, Family Guy, Killing Eve, Worst Cooks in America, Run, EPIX: and Belgravia.